When I started researching Maya Angelou Quotes about Women, I wondered how I would make my article different from all the other articles out there on the Internet.
I mean we are talking about Dr. Maya Angelou here. She’s not just anyone.
Maya Angelou (1928 – 2014), the American writer, poet, civil rights activist, actress, director, singer, storyteller, and so much more, who I have idolized since I was in my twenties, long before she was a household name. The woman whose words have inspired me at some of the most difficult times of my life. The woman whose wisdom knows no limits and heart knows no boundaries.
My first thought was to carefully select my favorite Maya Angelou quotes about women. I knew it would be difficult to narrow it down to a reasonable list, but I decided to choose 39 quotes that were particularly meaningful to me. I wanted to curate this list carefully so it covered all the years I have valued her wisdom.
My second thought was to choose images that are reflective of the way Dr. Angelou’s quotes make me feel. In the early years, I thought of butterflies and light when I read her words. I don’t really know why.
Later, her words would often make me chuckle with love. And more recently, I thought of royalty and the color purple when I read her quotes. Again, I don’t know why.
My next thought was to share some interesting facts about Maya Angelou. Things that people might not know about her — things that might be surprising and enlightening to readers.
I also wanted to list some of her work for inspired women who want to get to know her better, and then end with her poem, Phenomenal Woman.
Ideally, my article would make everyone love her words and wisdom as much as I do.
So in this article, you’ll learn more about this incredible woman and explore my favorite Maya Angelou quotes about women, and for women. It will be different from other articles you might read because it’s genuinely written from my heart.
39 Inspirational Maya Angelou Quotes about Women
I think you’ll agree that these are some of the most inspiring Maya Angelou quotes about women, and for women:
1. “My great hope is to laugh as much as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return.”
2. “When a person is going through hell, and she encounters someone who went through hellish hell and survived, then she can say, ‘Mine is not so bad as all that. She came through, and so can I.’”
3. “Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.”
4. “I created myself. I have taught myself so much.”
6. “Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”
7. “How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!”
8. “At 50, I began to know who I was. It was like waking up to myself.”
9. “Stepping onto a brand new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman.”
10. “It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.“
11. “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.“
12. “In all my work, in the movies I write, the lyrics, the poetry, the prose, the essays, I am saying that we may encounter many defeats – maybe it’s imperative that we encounter the defeats – but we are much stronger that we appear to be and maybe much better than we allow ourselves to be”.
13. “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.“
14. “Courage allows the successful woman to fail – and to learn powerful lessons from the failure – so that in the end, she didn’t fail at all.”
15. “A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.”
16. “Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman.”
17. “Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”
18. “The wise woman thinks twice and speaks once or, better yet, does not speak at all.”
19. “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”
20. “The woman who truly intends to live a good life is already living phenomenally since intent is part of the achievement.”
21. “I am grateful to be a woman. I must have done something great in another life.”
22. “I would like to be known as an intelligent woman, a courageous woman, a loving woman, a woman who teaches by being.”
23. “I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.”
24. “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
25. “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”
26. “Each of us has that right, that possibility, to invent ourselves daily. If a person does not invent herself, she will be invented. So, to be bodacious enough to invent ourselves is wise.”
27. “A woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself and only herself.”
28. “A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her.”
29. “The desire to reach the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise and most possible.”
30. “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”
31. “I’m interested in women’s health because I’m a woman. I’d be a darn fool not to be on my own side.”
32. “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
33. “Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with acts of kindness. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart.”
34. “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
35. “When you know you are of worth, you don’t have to raise your voice, you don’t have to become rude, you don’t have to become vulgar; you just are. And you are like the sky is, as the air is, the same way water is wet. It doesn’t have to protest.”
36. “A leader sees greatness in other people. He nor she can be much of a leader if all she sees is herself.”
37. “The sadness of the women’s movement is that they don’t allow the necessity of love. See, I don’t personally trust any revolution where love is not allowed.”
38. “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
39. “Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman.”
10 Facts You May Not Know About Maya Angelou
These facts provide a glimpse into Maya Angelou’s extraordinary life and her significant contributions to literature, civil rights activism, humanity, and womankind.
- Maya Angelou’s birth name was Marguerite Annie Johnson. She adopted the name Maya Angelou later in life as a stage name when she was performing as a singer, dancer, and actress.
- When Angelou was writing, she would rent a small hotel room near her home so she could concentrate. She would even have everything removed from the room except a bed, table, and chair — along with a thesaurus, dictionary, legal pad and pens, and a bottle of sherry.
- Angelou traveled far and wide, living all over the world. As an avid listener, she easily picked up local languages. Ultimately, she spoke several languages, including English, French, Spanish, Hebrew, Italian, and West African Fanti.
- Maya Angelou was the first Black woman to have a nonfiction best-seller with her memoir, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”
- She received more than 40 honorary degrees from prestigious universities, including Harvard, Yale, and Columbia.
- Angelou worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the Civil Rights Movement and became good friends with both him and Coretta Scott King. Sadly, Dr. King was assassinated on her fortieth birthday. She and Mrs. King remained good friends until their deaths.
- At age three, Maya was put on a train with her 4-year old brother to travel from California to Arkansas to live with their paternal grandmother. Growing up in difficult circumstances, she was assaulted around the age of seven and developed selective mutism for five years.
- Angelou composed and recited a poem, “On the Pulse of Morning,” for President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration in 1993 and was the first African American and woman poet to speak at an inauguration. (Robert Frost was the first inaugural poet to speak at John Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961.)
- In addition to her literary accomplishments, Maya Angelou was an accomplished actress, appearing in movies such as “Roots” and “Madea’s Family Reunion.”
- While working with Hallmark on a collection of greeting cards and collectibles, she told her disapproving Random House Editor, “If I’m America’s poet, or one of them, then I want to be in people’s hands … people who would never buy a book.”
Maya Angelou Books and Poetry
Maya Angelou is renowned for her powerful autobiographical series, which consists of several books. Here is a list of the books in her autobiographical series, in chronological order:
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969)
- This is the first and most famous book in Angelou’s series. It covers her childhood and early adolescence, focusing on themes of racism, trauma, and self-discovery.
- Gather Together in My Name (1974)
- This book continues Angelou’s story after the events of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” It delves into her experiences as a young single mother and her struggle to find her place in the world.
- Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas (1976)
- The third installment in the series, this book focuses on Angelou’s career as a singer, dancer, and actress. It explores her time performing in various theater productions and her travels across the United States and Europe.
- The Heart of a Woman (1981)
- In this book, Angelou recounts her experiences during the 1960s civil rights movement and her involvement with prominent figures such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. It also delves into her personal life, including her marriage and divorce.
- All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986)
- This book chronicles Angelou’s time living in Ghana during the early 1960s. It explores her journey of self-discovery, connection to African heritage, and her encounters with African culture and society.
- A Song Flung Up to Heaven (2002)
- The sixth book in Angelou’s series, it begins with the assassination of Malcolm X and covers the subsequent years of political unrest and personal challenges. It concludes with the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993.
- Mom & Me & Mom (2013)
- The seventh and final book in Angelou’s autobiographical series focuses on her complex relationship with her mother, Vivian Baxter. It helps fill in blanks from Angelou’s eventful life and chronicles her reunion and reconciliation with her mother. It was published just prior to her 85th birthday.
Additionally, Angelou wrote a best-selling book of essays, Letter to My Daughter (2009), that consists of 28 essays, poems, and a commencement address. Although she never had a daughter, Angelou shared that her words of wisdom were written for the thousands of women around the world who saw her as a mother figure.
Maya Angelou is widely celebrated for her poetic words and profound insight. These are just a few of her most notable poetry books:
- Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie (1971)
- Angelou’s first poetry collection, it showcases her distinctive voice and tackles themes of love, identity, and social justice.
- And Still I Rise (1978)
- This iconic collection features powerful and empowering poems that speak to the resilience, strength, and determination of African Americans and women.
- Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing? (1983)
- In this book, Angelou explores themes of love, loss, and personal transformation. Her poems reflect on the complexities of life and the pursuit of self-discovery.
- I Shall Not Be Moved (1991)
- This collection delves into Angelou’s experiences as an African American woman, examining themes of racism, feminism, and the quest for equality.
- A Brave and Startling Truth (1995)
- This collection reflects Angelou’s visionary spirit and addresses themes of global unity, social justice, and the interconnectedness of humanity.
Maya Angelou even wrote a number of children’s books:
- Life Doesn’t Frighten Me (1993)
- My Painted House, My Friendly Children, and Me (2003)
- Maya’s World Series (2004+)
Plus, two cookbooks:
- Hallelujah! The Welcome Table (2004)
- Great Food, All Day Long (2010)
Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou
Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women (1995) is a compilation of four powerful poems that celebrate the strength, beauty, and resilience of women everywhere. “Phenomenal Woman” is one of Angelou’s most famous and beloved poems.
I am sharing this poem below in memory of the great Maya Angelou, and as a reminder that YOU are a phenomenal woman. Stop and take time to read each word — and listen to the rhythm and flow of the words. Know that Dr. Angelou wrote these words for YOU.
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Final Thoughts: Maya Angelou Quotes About Women
These Maya Angelou quotes about women speak to the power of the human spirit and the strength of women. While she was an activist for many causes, she truly believed in the power of women and she sought to empower women everywhere with her words.
I hope you’ll let these inspirational quotes by Maya Angelou empower you to be the woman you want to be.
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Love to ALL! ~ Susan